Back in February, a Buffalo, N.Y. community activist who pushed for a highly restrictive 2013 gun control law was arrested for — wait for it — carrying a gun illegally at a public elementary school.
The wheels of criminal justice have now slowly, slowly churned to completion. And wouldn’t you know it? The judge in the case has now found it in his heart to give the heat-packing activist, Dwayne Ferguson, a generously light sentence.
On Monday, Judge John L. Michalek sentenced Ferguson to 100 hours of community service and a conditional discharge, according to local CBS affiliate WIVB. Michalek also sternly ordered Ferguson to keep his nose clean.
If Ferguson completes the service requirements and stays out of trouble, he won’t have to answer for the substantially more serious charge initially levied against him: Possessing a firearm on schools grounds. (He initially was looking at two felony charges of criminal gun possession.)
The state probation department endorsed the lenient sentence in a presentencing report, The Buffalo News notes.
Ferguson caused quite a scene at Harvey Austin Elementary School some eight months ago when he waltzed right inside with a firearm.
At about 4:15 p.m. on a Thursday afternoon, police acted on a pair of anonymous 911 tips. A battalion of cops quickly swarmed the school. The brigade included over a dozen squad cars, the SWAT team and K9 units. The Erie County Sheriff’s Air One helicopter and what appears to be an armored vehicle also turned up. (RELATED: GUN STUN: Gun Control Activist Swears He Forgot He Was Carrying Gun While Visiting School)
The school was immediately placed on lockdown. Parts of two streets were closed.
About 60 students who were still on campus participating in after-school activities were funneled to the cafeteria.
Cops searched the school room by room and would not let parents on campus until they were satisfied that no shooting threat existed.
Ferguson was at Harvey Elementary because he works as a mentor in an after-school program for disadvantaged students.
“Emotions and tensions were running high and everyone was concerned about preventing a mass shooting on school property,” Ferguson’s defense lawyer, Joseph Agro, declared at the sentencing hearing, according to WIVB. “In the midst of it all his main concern was to protect the kids and he didn’t even think that they were there to look for him.”
Ferguson has a license to carry a gun but the license does not matter under a strict state gun control law he himself helped pass.
Among much else, the 2013 law, deemed New York’s SAFE Act, made it a felony to carry a gun on school property, according to The Buffalo News.
While it had previously been illegal to carry a gun on school grounds, the new law bumped the crime from a misdemeanor to a felony in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
The community activist thus claimed that he forgot he was carrying his gun in a felony gun-free zone he helped create.
“Hundreds if not thousands of young men he has assisted in this community over a 20-year period,” Agro pontificated on behalf of his client. “You have a guy here who’s dedicated his life to this community and made a mistake. He completely owns up to it and accepts full responsibility.”
The father of three who belongs to Buffalo Peacemakers carries a gun wherever he goes, the attorney added, according to the CBS affiliate.
“I’m still on the street doing what I’m doing at funerals, football games, making sure these young men and young ladies continue on making sure they have a better life than what I do,” Ferguson said, according to WIVB.
Ferguson faced a maximum of four years in prison on the eventually pared-down charges against him.